Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The Raid - 1st C.M.R. December 20th, 1916. Map


Peter Maxfield
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've been interested in The Raid by the 1st C.M.R. on December 20, 1916, and yesterday, exploring through an old case at my aunt's, found this hand-drawn linen map of my Grandfather's. He'd just got back on November 27th after recovering from wounds (and marriage) and was back in charge of "A" Coy. It's really good reading the Battalion diaries when you can see almost all the points they're talking about in front of you on the map. I intend to gather together as much information as possible about it. I have some letters from my grandfather's men. I'll check the Operation Order, and the Brigade and Divisional diaries. There's five minutes of the interview with (Brig) Gerard Renvoize Bradbrooke M.C., talking about this raid. He mentions my Grandfather giving him instructions (but calls him Second-in-Command Major Maxwell - of course! It's :- MAXFIELD). There's a good overview by Harwood Elmes Robert Steel in his: 

The Canadians in France, 1920.

"Raids were now harassing the Germans with clockwork regularity, and a rich haul of prisoners, machine guns and equipment stood to the credit of the Canadians. This haul was greatly augmented when, on December 20th, one of the most successful raids ever launched was made upon the German lines.

The First C.M.R. Battalion, Lieut.-Col. R. C. Andros, delivered the assault. The frontage attacked lay just north of the road from Arras to Lens, the right flank touching the road and the left lying four hundred and fifty yards beyond. The trenches here formed a small salient inviting aggression and contained several objectionable machine gun emplacements. Major Laws, commanding the battalion at the time, was largely responsible for the careful planning of the attack. After very thorough wire-cutting and reconnaissances, which occupied several nights, the attackers, who numbered nearly seven hundred, manned the assembly trenches and a large crater in front. At the appointed time dense clouds of smoke were released from our trenches, completely concealing the scene of action from the enemy around it. As the smoke poured over No Man's Land our furious barrage came into play, covering fire was opened from our machine guns, and at 3.15 p.m. our men moved forward in orderly waves through the smoke.

Majors Maxfield, Taylor, Caswell and French, each in command of his company, led the attackers, assisted, of course, by their subalterns. A few machine guns attempted to stop the advancing waves, but were of no effect and soon ceased their useless sweeping of the hidden country. The Germans were cowering in their dugouts and were unable to get out before the assailants were upon them. Except for a brief bombing struggle, practically no resistance was made, and the men went quickly to their tasks of wholesale destruction. Pushing on to the support line, they established bombing posts in it, in all communication trenches and to the flanks. Then everything breakable was destroyed. The machine gun emplacements were smashed to pieces. All dugouts were battered in by throwing down bombs or incendiary explosives. The Germans sheltering in them were given a chance to come out and surrender. Most of them were overjoyed to do so, but those who refused paid the penalty of their obstinacy. Wherever sentries attempted to show fight they were either killed or overpowered. The prisoners were rapidly collected together and their arms disposed of.

The systematic wrecking of the hostile trenches was complete before we had been in possession two hours. Under cover of night our men then very quietly withdrew, taking their prisoners with them. Long afterwards, during the midnight watches, the Germans violently shelled their ruined trenches and launched a counter-attack, thus displaying their complete ignorance of the situation.

Our casualties were very slight. The enemy's were heavy. They lost two officers and fifty-six men in prisoners alone, and their killed and their smashed trenches must have cost them dear. This raid was the most fruitful raid on the Western front, up to that time. But the precedent it set—that it was possible to raid the enemy in daylight with impunity – was of even greater value than the mere local results. The decision to raid in daylight was a very daring one, but the success of the move justified the risk and blazed the trail for grander strokes."

 

Could anyone place exactly where the trenches were? Lille Road is the D917 running NE out of Lens. Overlay possible?

Map drawn by Lt. George Patrick Weir, who'd taken over duties as Scout Officer on October 14th. I'll measure the size . . . Any clues how to flatten the map without causing any damage? Old ink used. Two drawing pin holes in top corners.

Sgt. Guy Compton of No 2 Platoon, “A” Coy, 1st C.M.R.  wrote on Jan 1st 1963: (He's talking about 'Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914 – 1919,' by Col G W L. Nicholson.)

"I also remember when down at Divisional School at Perron, that they used to tell us of the first daylight raid of the war by Canadians was carried out by the 1st C.M.R. I believe it was on the Somme Front but nothing is mentioned of this, was this correct?, the raid I mean, as it was just before my time that it occurred." My Grandfather has added as notes: 'THELUS' and 'AUBIGNY' - He has also written on the map: 'A Coy' on the back. Bottom mid-left he's put: 'Raid frontage 250 yards' and called Craters 19 and 19A (XlX & XlXA) 'TWINS.' Bottom left is: 'ETRUN' and 'ANZIN.'

 

Map - Raid Lt. G P Weir.jpg

Edited by Peter Maxfield
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a first rate contribution, Peter !

It’s dramatic stuff.

 

A quick survey of CWGC data for the 20th December 1916 in France reveals 8 commemorations for the 1st C.M.R.

 

Careful planning and Canadian gumption portended Vimy and Hill 70.

 

Editing here : it might be pertinent to point out that of the eight dead of the 1st C.M.R. that day, all but one were recovered and given identified burial. The sole exception is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial. Such a high recovery and identified interment rate is indicative of a successful action.

 

Phil

Edited by phil andrade
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 02/09/2021 at 05:33, Peter Maxfield said:

Could anyone place exactly where the trenches were? Lille Road is the D917 running NE out of Lens. Overlay possible?

@Peter Maxfield what a fantastic artefact.  An absolute treasure.  We can place it within 50 metres or so and once you get a decent scan we can have a better go.  A flatbed scanner will work nicely (but consult a professional archivist first to talk about acid free storage).

There is now an overlay here - pan and zoom, change opacity and measure distances.  Just don't try and pinpoint craters etc. until we get a flatter scan.

Luckily, there are plenty of maps showing two trenches common to Major Maxfield's raid - these are Sutherland Avenue and New and Old Fantome Avenue which merge just north of Ecurie. 

image.png.6646af87d27891a85ad4d84ae7ee09cf.png

image.png.ada91e5b85edfacf64677dd8a23f40a6.png

 

Edited by WhiteStarLine
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, BradleyShoebottom said:

See Kenneth Radley's book, "On the Dangerous Edge: British and Canadian Trench Raiding on the Western Front 1914-1918" pp 318-20 where he describes the raids by the CMRs in Dec 1916, https://www.helion.co.uk/military-history-books/on-the-dangerous-edge-british-and-canadian-trench-raiding-on-the-western-front-1914-1918.php

good morning,

Is this book about the raids on the Loos sector?
thank you pr advance for your answer. 

regards

michel

Link to comment
Share on other sites


thank you for your answer. 

I'll see to buy it.
 

regards

michel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, WhiteStarLine said:

@Peter Maxfield what a fantastic artefact.  An absolute treasure.  We can place it within 50 metres or so and once you get a decent scan we can have a better go.  A flatbed scanner will work nicely (but consult a professional archivist first to talk about acid free storage).

There is now an overlay here - pan and zoom, change opacity and measure distances.  Just don't try and pinpoint craters etc. until we get a flatter scan.

Luckily, there are plenty of maps showing two trenches common to Major Maxfield's raid - these are Sutherland Avenue and New and Old Fantome Avenue which merge just north of Ecurie. 

image.png.6646af87d27891a85ad4d84ae7ee09cf.pngimage.png.95f3fd8b148e434b6d0d1554d7e2eaed.png

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Col. WhiteStarLine, Thank you so much for pinpointing the spot - I was looking in the wrong place. Fantastic to see like that. Indeed - I just took the photo of the map with my phone while standing on a chair! I will follow your advice re: a pro archivist and proper scan just as soon as I can. I'll transcribe Bradbrooke's interview next . . . 

Here's the actual day of The Raid transcribed from the War Diaries, but there's more than a month's worth while the (8th C.I.B./C.M.R.) Brigade was in that location - 

Wed., Dec 20, 1916      In Field     [THE RAID]

8.am Battalion proceeded by way of Buses to ANZIN, from here by march route to the Line which was held by the 5th CMR Bn. The different parties which were already divided into waves took their respective places in the Tunnels and awaited for Orders. In accordance with the Operation Order governing this “Raid” the Heavy Artillery opened up on Enemys Front and Support Line Trenches, as well the strong points, T.M. positions and M.G. Emplacements. This Bombardment lasted from 1.30pm until 2.05pm and during this time no retaliation whatever was undertaken by the Enemy. At 3.15pm our artillery barrage was ceased and M.G. fire opened on flanks. The attacking party at 3.18pm then filed out thru the Tunnels allotted to the various waves which led to “No Mans Land” and proceeded to Enemys Front Line. "A" Coy. was divided into 6 parties, all parties with the exception of No. 6 encountered no resistance, the 6th party however met with some opposition from hostile bombing post on Edge of Crater 19, being greeted with a few cylindrical sticks. This post was immediately routed by our men and occupants disposed of, any survivors were sent out as prisoners. 35 mins after the men had left the Jumping off Point word was recd by Runner that "A" Coy parties had all reached their objective, put in the required block and linked up with Coy on their left. This section of the German Front Line was almost levelled to the Ground by our artillery fire, Stokes Guns etc. What dugout entrances were exposed were bombed and set on fire by P. Bombs assisted by Mobile Charges. "B" Coy which was divided into 5 parties moved from Tunnel to Crater via the old French Trench and the first wave left at zero time 3.18pm. the remaining parties prepared to follow immediately. A few mins elapsed and the first Three parties had entered the German front Line and were busily engaged at their respective tasks. No. 4 and 5 parties which consisted of carriers, stretcher bearers, etc. also reached the Line without any opposition The dugouts were bombed and set on fire causing heavy loss to the Enemy, as our men were of the opinion that there were Germans in nearly every dugout. Parties bombed along ‘N’ Trench until they had connected up with "C" Coy. on the Left and "A" Coy on the Right. "C" Company which were all assembled in the main shaft at the Jct. of MORAY AVE and the BONNAL TRENCH. A working party which were detailed from this Coy reported at 12.45pm that the work on digging thru from Crater 26 to Crater 27 had been completed. This tunnel allowed "C" Company to go from the BONNAL TRENCH to a point within 50 yds. of Fritz’s enemy line without being seen. At 2.15pm 3 snipers, a L.G. and crew were sent out to a position which was previously selected in the old FRENCH TRENCH, from this point covering party were able to sweep the Enemy Front Line parapet with Machine Gun fire and snipe any of the Enemy who made an appearance. They also covered the advance of the First Wave until it was within a few yards of the Enemy front Line. At zero time 3.18pm the parties moved off from the main shaft via the newly constructed Tunnel over “No Mans Land” to the “HUN” front line. No trouble was experienced proceeding thru the wire, as the wire had already been cut on the flanks the night previous and all the Stakes had been loosened, which allowed the parties to walk thru quite easily. At 3.20pm "C" Coy were all in their respective places occupying the Enemy Front Line and at 3.15pm. all of their objectives had been successfully reached. "D" Coy was in Support in our Front Line. Different parties were detailed from this Coy to carry ammunition, G. bombs etc. to the German Front Line during the period Battn occupied same. Coy also supplied stretcher parties to carry out the killed and wounded. At 4.26 pm the raiding party was signalled to return by Four rockets being thrown at two minute intervals. Immediately signal was noticed the attacking parties all returned to former places in our Line, later proceeding by march route to ANZIN where buses awaited which conveyed them to Rest Billets at ETRUN arriving at 7.30pm.

Total Casualties inflicted 6 ORs killed 2 ORs died of wounds 29 ORs wounded to Hospital, 5 ORs slightly wounded still at duty. Prisoners taken, Officers 2, ORs 57

(The reproduction is not represented as an official version of the material reproduced or as having been made in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of, Library and Archives Canada. Library and Archives, Canada, is the source.)

This from the CWGC spread sheet:

[Pte. William Louis Ashton, 225311; Pte. Leonard Henry Bird, 228191;

Pte. Michael Chimitch, 455524; Sgt. William Robert Hunter, 106306 “C” Coy;

Pte. William Henry Campbell Lynn, 226777; Pte. Frederick Ernest Matthews, 552828;

Pte. Llewellyn Frank Sedman, 425299; Pte. Joseph Edmond Sexton, 425306]

Edited by Peter Maxfield
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter, always happy to help.  I completely forgot to mention that the markers (1-6) are technical pins for me to align the linen map with the modern map and are not relevant to your studies.  The trenches are correct (within the limitations mentioned above).  Your description was very helpful as I found it between Arras and Lens and luckily two trenches were common when I searched tMapper.

The process is quite easy, once the trench names were known and a 1916 trench map found.

  • Identify the rotation required to align your map with true north on the modern map (~ 38 degrees).
  • Subtract -1 degrees for map sheet 51b.A.22.
  • Identify and tag 4-6 coinciding points.
  • Fine tune using the Roman road.

Currently the software leaves in the markers which is only correct if the original map is north facing.  When you do your flat scan, we can correct this and you should be able to spot craters and trench remanants underneath and find the exact trench raid departure and return points with confidence.  However, look after the artefact first - it is irreplaceable!

Cheers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lt.-Col. Ralph Craven Andros, D.S.O. www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205289628

Major (Lt.-Col.) Burnett Laws D.S.O., Croix de Guerre, Q.S.A. www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20538436

Major (Lt.-Col.) Walter Edward Maxfield., D.S.O., Q.S.A., K.S.A. Family (pencil) portrait.


All colourised by Jools McKenna.

All three families still in touch!

Andros colour copy.jpg

Burnett Laws.jpg

Pop drawing.jpg

Edited by Peter Maxfield
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Peter Maxfield I have a feeling once we have a decent scan we'll get an overlay you can retrace his steps on ...

Here is (I think) the area of the raid.  The Arras - Lens road is marked as such on the full map and Rocllincourt is shown as the bottom left.  Enlarging the area just north of Ecurie shows the distinctive cratering and the curve of the trenches.  I've checked well over a dozen trench maps and many of them draw the area quite differently as the war progresses.  This aerial, courtesy IWM and WFA, is taken 15 months later.  It is not north facing:  Mosaic No.34 51B A3-30, B25-26, H1-2 21-Mar-18 Area North, West and East of Roclincourt BIO No.5 Sqd RFC.

The craters at the top left are outside your raid but I didn't crop them to demonstrate the amount of trench they obliterated.

image.png.a86b4b05fe9cfad2087aa6c774d7ba16.png

image.png.a1882417995704d944cbe894bf1b1b6f.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you again! Yes, that's it. I can see the 'Twins'  (19 & 19A) down below the 'A' of ARRAS. Left of those is (I think) 20A then 20, before the three going vertically - 23 at the bottom, 22 above and 21 top.

I've just printed off the Brigade and Divisional entries. No sign of Operation Order 68, but details are well covered. Will do some homework!

Still busy working, but as soon as I get a break I'll try for a flat scan! It'll be next week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a perfect transcription of this interview, but close enough. A first-hand account from Private (later, Brigadier-General) G.R. Bradbrooke - awarded the M.C. as a Lieutenant on 18 January, 1918.

Pte. Gerard Renvoize Bradbrooke (1896-1980) Later Lt., M.C., and Brig.-Gen.

Reginald H. Roy interview: May 22, 1980.

 

http://contentdm.library.uvic.ca/cdm/compoundobject/collection/collection13/id/166/rec/11

 

"After a while with the 28th Battalion in those trenches I got word from my uncle [Major George Howard Bradbrooke] that he had arranged a transfer for me to join his unit, the 1st CMRs. Well, I'd been in hospital with the flu or something and when I came out this transfer was awaiting me. So, I was given the thing and told to go and join the 1st CMRs. Of course, I had no idea where they were, and nobody knew, I just had to find out . . . 

 However, I finally found my way to the 1st CMRs and the Colonel [Andros] was away and my uncle happened to be Second-in-Command then; Commanding temporarily, and he was preparing the 1st CMRs to go on the first daylight raid that had ever been put on, on the Western Front. So I said, "Oh well, can I go with the Battalion bombers?" and he said, "No, you can't go with the Battalion bombers, you'll have to go with the Company and I don't think you can go at all - you've only just arrived!" However, we practiced over tapes and models the best way we could and finally we went up the line on motor buses to the head of the trench. And the 2nd CMRs were in the line and they were going to hold the line and we would go in there, make our raid and come out. 

So, I went in with the Raiding Party and . . . (ROY: How much of a march would that be from the end of the communication trench up to the, er . . ?) About a mile and a bit . . . winding/zig-zag. So, however, then we all got put into a tunnel and we were supposed to come out and see the crater. Well, just as I was the last coming out of the Crater Party, the then Second-in-Command, a Major Maxwell [MAXFIELD!] gave me a thing with some tape* wound on it and said, “Now look here. You put this tape across No-Man’s-Land so to guide the people to know how to come back.” So, I didn’t go with the Crater Party. I tied the tape to a barbed-wire stake and I went over the top and I heard the Crater Party doing a lot of bombing and shooting and one thing and another. I had trouble untangling this bloody tape and I finally got it undone and it only reached about two-thirds of the way across No-Man’s-Land. So, then I ran like the Dickens, got into the trench and followed another party that were already in the trench. And the drill was to come to a German dugout and you put stick bombs down and then you met the Germans coming up with Mills bombs and blew them back down. And then you put down a mobile charge, which was really a Stoke’s bomb (ROY: What would that be? 5/10lbs?) About 5,6 or 8lbs (Gunpowder?) Full of Ammonal, and anyway, it blew up. Blew up the whole dugout – nobody could come up or down on the stairs, you know. So, we did three dugouts like that and then we finally got as far into the trenches as anybody, I think, and then we got the word to come back. Well, we came back, ‘cock-a-hooping,’ and I didn’t see my tape anywhere but I got back to our own lines somehow or other.

(ROY: The object was to pick up prisoners, or . . .) Oh, yeah, the idea was to capture prisoners, that was the idea, and although we didn’t capture any, the whole of the three companies [four] went over, I think. We captured fifty-two prisoners. One of them was an officer. He got a bit ‘canary’ so they knocked him on the head. So they got fifty-one prisoners and I think we lost five killed and about ten wounded. (ROY: How many . . ?) We must have done in about two hundred down in their dugouts, that sort of thing. (ROY: So you achieved complete surprise . . ?) Oh, yeah. (ROY: How fast did they react to this sudden . . . guns/machine-guns?) Well, we put down a tremendous box barrage. 18-pounders supplied the front end of the box and Vickers machine-guns, and there were trench mortars, supplied the sides of the box. So, we went in, we did all our dirty work in the middle of this box. (ROY: No reinforcements could get through?) Nobody could come up and help them or anything else. So, we practically scuppered everybody in the box (ROY: I see; and got your prisoners) For identification – that was the idea of the whole thing.

So, then we came out. We got into buses and I remember – don’t know if this is very interesting or not – coming back on the buses, I was pretty tired and I was up on the top of the bus, right up in front (ROY: An open bus?) Open-top, yes (Double-Decker) and so I was leaning my arms on the rail round, and with my head on the top, and while we were going along an electric telephone wire was sagging over the road and the electric wire hit me on the steel helmet and went, ‘PING,’ like that, and if I’d been sitting upright it would have taken my head off. Not only did it ‘PING,’ like that, it . . . the bus was under it with all the other soldiers in the back before it had come down again (ROY: You acted as a deflector?) Yeah, yeah, yeah. However, we then got back and I made several other trips in the line with the 1st CMRs; trenches and one thing or another. And then, while we were out at rest, preparing for Vimy Ridge, by the way, there was word passed around that they were forming a Canadian Machine Gun Corps to amalgamate all the Vickers machine-gun companies, one to each Brigade, and they wanted more officers. And so I applied and, to cut a long story short, after a couple of courses I found myself an officer in the 8th Brigade Machine Gun Company.”

 

* Brigade Diaries have, under 'PREPARATION':

Ordinary tracing tape dabbed with luminous paint every six feet, was prepared for the attacking parties to lay out in NO MAN'S LAND as a guide for withdrawing in the dark.

 

(Nice to know that people were mistaking our surname with Maxwell even back then - and probably hundreds of years before that too!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

William S. Thakray is the interviewer, not Reg Roy. It's from Roy's collection.

Edited by Peter Maxfield
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Map drawn by Lt. George Patrick Weir, who'd taken over duties as Scout Officer on October 14th. I'll measure the size . . . Any clues how to flatten the map without causing any damage? Old ink used. Two drawing pin holes in top corners.

Peter,

I volunteer at a museum, and ran a couple of my ideas (steam over a kettle or flatten with a steam iron) by the manager of collections-----he said that they are too drastic (do not want the ink to run)!

His advice is to place the map inside a dry shallow basin/bowl/tray which is then placed in a larger container which also contains a basin/bowl/tray of warm water.

Seal this larger container so that you achieve an atmosphere saturated with water vapour.

After some hours (maybe overnight) the water vapour will relax the fibres; open out flat and use a paper towel to wick away any droplets of water that may have accumulated.

Lay the opened map on paper towels, cover with paper towels and then something heavy-ish (books/magazines etc) to flatten the creases.

If you try this, please let us know how it works out, and good luck!

Regards,

JMB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
On 15/09/2021 at 14:23, JMB1943 said:

Map drawn by Lt. George Patrick Weir, who'd taken over duties as Scout Officer on October 14th. I'll measure the size . . . Any clues how to flatten the map without causing any damage? Old ink used. Two drawing pin holes in top corners.

Peter,

I volunteer at a museum, and ran a couple of my ideas (steam over a kettle or flatten with a steam iron) by the manager of collections-----he said that they are too drastic (do not want the ink to run)!

His advice is to place the map inside a dry shallow basin/bowl/tray which is then placed in a larger container which also contains a basin/bowl/tray of warm water.

Seal this larger container so that you achieve an atmosphere saturated with water vapour.

After some hours (maybe overnight) the water vapour will relax the fibres; open out flat and use a paper towel to wick away any droplets of water that may have accumulated.

Lay the opened map on paper towels, cover with paper towels and then something heavy-ish (books/magazines etc) to flatten the creases.

If you try this, please let us know how it works out, and good luck!

Regards,

JMB

The other option is to take a higher end camera and photograph the map, via a fixed mount/tripod/ as near as vertical as possible.   Had to do this for several larger historical maps and it works not bad as long as your creases are not creating vertical ridges/distortions that would affect the group-referencing

foresterab 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...